Lightning green with jet-black wings, my companion patiently awaits my arrival. As I alight we lift off, soft feathers dusting the breeze. Each wing beat carries us closer to the heavens. All around us grass stalks loom, taller in their way than the giant redwoods. Below there is an ocean of green set before us with islands of red and yellow, purple and blue. A cacophony of colours surrounds.
Shortly into our journey, there on our left, a challenger! Sleek blue, his two sets of wings set apart, built for speed. With acrobatic rolls and dives he taunts, daring us to give chase. An apt afternoon for the young to be demonstrating their prowess, for the summertime is short. Still, a race is not our intention for the day, and as we drift slowly on we are met with a sigh and the roar of wings leaving us in their wake.
From time to time we are greeted as we pass, others soaring by, this way or that. And there below us, such a sight. Tears of empathy flood my eyes as I look at her, there alone at one of the puddling sites. Wings still black with coloured spots, but the colours now faded. The backs of her wings are in tatters, torn and rent from the buffeting winds. Instantly I reach out to help, to bring healing to this troubled soul, but she stops me with a glance. Slowly, defiantly, she speaks, saying “If it is my time to die, let me not live one day further.” And with that she lifts off and flutters silently into the trees.
As we near the end of our journey, we must make one last stop along the way. Soft green leaves wearing crowns of purple flowers, we are overtaken by the fragrance. Although my associate has no such interest, a wonderful tea may be made of this. First however, permission must be asked and given. With supplication the request, and the answer is succinct: “If you will honour us” is the reply. A few samples are carefully removed from stem to stem, and we are underway once again – burdened slightly by the weight of our gatherings.
One short flight and we return full circle to our original perch. Dismounting, I offer my farewells to my friend and stroke her antennae gently. Care must be taken with her wings, a fine weaving of gossamer stretched over a delicate frame. Delicate too her legs, indeed everything about her. Plans for a reunion are made and set, not too long now.
And so, giving last good-byes I am off down the trail once again.
Mike Pedde 08/08/01